NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Since the terrorist attacks, the Empire State Building has been lit in red, white and blue lights. But on Tuesday night, in honor of Chinese Lunar New Year, New York's tallest building is radiant in gold and red.
Many New Yorkers, especially those who live and work in Chinatown, hope the traditional colors for the New Year's holiday -- red for happiness and gold for wealth -- are a positive omen for the year 4699, the Year of the Horse.
There will be plenty of parades and events but no fireworks, a centuries-old Chinese tradition to ward off evils in the coming year.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued the ban on organized fireworks. The ban was imposed by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, but not because of the terrorist attacks. The ban had been in place for several years.
Although Bloomberg refused to lift the ban because of the public skittishness following the September attacks, he indicated that the ban for a professional firework display could be lifted for future Lunar New Year's celebrations, possibly next year.
Chinatown, located just north of the World Trade Center, was one of New York City's hardest hit economically after the attacks, and is still struggling.
While just north enough not to sustain heavy damage to buildings, the shutdown of Lower Manhattan following the attacks, the loss of more than 100,000 people working at the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings and the loss of tourists from out of town took a heavy toll on the 100,000 people who live in Chinatown.
Several Chinese restaurants told United Press International that business was "so-so" for Tuesday night and every night except Friday and Saturday when it picks up.
"Business has picked up in the last couple of months but the tourists haven't returned and now until summer is our tradition slow period," a worker at Chinatown Restaurant located on Broadway said.
Many other Chinese restaurants said they were missing the tourists and diners from the suburbs. Many phones in Lower Manhattan did not work for several weeks following the attacks, so those customers that did make it to Chinatown couldn't use credit cards because they had to be approved by telephone.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 700 loans have been awarded to businesses in Chinatown -- or about one-fourth of all of the loans made in New York City for economic damages following the attacks.
Although the loans are low interest, about 4 percent, and can run for as long as 30 years, many small businesses, especially retail and restaurants, are reluctant to take on additional debt when the future is uncertain.
Some private charities have provided some assistance to small businesses and the state provided $20 million in retail recovery grants that provided up to $10,000 to businesses that lost up to three days of business because the area was barricaded by police.
Many businesses were closed more than a week and those that did reopen had few, if any, customers because of the traffic restrictions. Following the attacks, Lower Manhattan was cordoned off and only residents could enter the area and automobile traffic was banned in some areas and severely restricted in others.
Chinese businesses and the Asian American Business Development Center are working together to bring business back to Chinatown. The group was responsible for the Empire State Building lights and arranged a gala reception Tuesday night.
Twenty-nine businesses are participating in a month-long Chinese New Year promotion and are offering prix-fixe lunches for $8.88, dinners for $18.88 and multi-course banquets for $47 per person.
According to the AABDC, the Chinese word for fortune is close to the word eight so the number has been associated with the New Year. The Chinese year of 4700 provided the price for the banquet.
The AABDC is involved in other promotions for Chinatown such as an advertising campaign staring Jackie Chan.
The Chinese-American Emmy award-winning TV journalist, entrepreneur and best-selling author Yue-Sai Kan created a Chinese New Year celebration for more than 100 New York City public school second-graders from Lower Manhattan Tuesday.
In the new Toys "R" Us, in Times Square, the children were entertained by a Chinese dance company performing the traditional New Year's Lion Dance, authentic Kung Fu warriors, and a special performance by Sandra Allen, singing "I Enjoy Being a Girl" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's
"Flower Drum Song," which will open on Broadway in October 2002.
For Chinese New Year, Yue-Sai Kan will unveil her "Chinese Bride," a limited-edition collector's doll dressed in a traditional Chinese wedding ensemble. Each doll requires more than 100 hours of hand-embroidery, and is adorned with pearls and gold accents. Only 999 pieces of the Chinese Bride will be sold.